January 22, 2017
Pastor Alan Smith
When I was in college, several of my friends and I loved to get into debates. We would start a debate on just about any topic and randomly chose positions and just debate. People that didn’t know us likely thought we argued a lot, but we did for the fun.
We had an opportunity once to actually participate in a real debate, with real rules, and format and everything. We knew how to argue, but we had no idea how to debate. So, when we arrived to the debate. . . needless to say we got destroyed. We didn’t have the right answers, didn’t ask the right questions, didn’t know how to defend our position. . . it was no pretty.
But I have seen some debates where the person knew exactly what to say when the question was asked. They had the ability to turn the debate with a insightful or poignant statement that caused the participants to step back. As a matter of fact, I found a clip of one of the best debate moments I remember. . . See if you remember this one.
Now that is how you win a debate. You get the heart of the matter and go straight for the truth. No one can respond that kind of answer. . .
Last week Jeff introduced us to a series of debates that were taking place in the Temple between Jesus and the religious leaders. As Jesus was teaching, the religious leaders were asking him questions trying to catch him so they could accuse him and have him arrested or killed. They wanted him off the streets!
The first thing I want us to notice is that we bear the image of God and therefore, we belong to him.
1. We bear His image
20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. 22 Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?” 23 But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?” They said, “Caesar’s.” 25 He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” 26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent.
In Jesus’ day, the Romans had placed a tax on all of it’s territories called a Poll Tax. This tax was based on the census and was simply a tax applied to everyone under Roman rule who was not a Roman Citizen. The tax was one Denari, which was a day wages for the average worker in the Empire.
This tax could only be paid with Roman currency, the denari. It was collected by the Publican’s, the hated tax collectors. Remember our story a few weeks ago of Zaccheus, he was one who collected this tax.
So when the spies came to ask about taxes, they were asking a question that was loaded. The people hated the tax, the religious leaders saw it as a forced tribute to a false God. . this was topic of much debate in Jesus’ day.
So Jesus replies to the question by simply asking for a coin. And then he ask two obvious questions, Who’s image does the coin bear? And What is written on the coin?
This is an ancient Denari coin. Notice on the face of the coin is an image. This image is of Ceaser, specifically Tiberius Ceasar, who was the son of Ceaser Augustus and therefore considered to be the ‘son of god’ by those in the Roman Empire. So we have a coin bearing the image of the ‘son of god.’ With the inscription that says “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus”
So Jesus says to give back to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. The image on the coin and the inscription indicate that the coin belongs to Caesar. . . so give to him what belongs to him. . But the implication about you and I is profound.
Jesus does not stop with the answer to their question. He takes them to the Gospel. . .Give to God what belongs to God.
How do we know what belongs to God?
The thing that bears the image and the inscription of God, belongs to God. . .
We know from Genesis 1, that God made man in His image. In the image of God he created male and female.
In Romans 2 Paul tells us that the law of God is written on our heart and is revealed by our conscience. Even those who don’t know the Scriptures know that they have done wrong and sinned.
We are image bearers of God. We have his word inscribed on our heart. . .
So we are called to give to God what is His. . .that is you and me.
Now this was a powerful response to these spies. As a matter of fact, the priest and the scribes throw in the towel. They stop asking questions.
2. We have certainty of the resurrection
Taking the opportunity, the aristocratic religious leaders have a religious question to pose to Jesus. So not only do we bear the image of God, but We have certainty in the Resurrection.
27 There came to him some Sadducees, those who deny that there is a resurrection, 28 and they asked him a question, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the widow and raise up offspring for his brother. 29 Now there were seven brothers. The first took a wife, and died without children. 30 And the second 31 and the third took her, and likewise all seven left no children and died. 32 Afterward the woman also died. 33 In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had her as wife.” 34 And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, 36 for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection. 37 But that the dead are raised, even Moses showed, in the passage about the bush, where he calls the Lord the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. 38 Now he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for all live to him.” 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
This is the first time we’ve been introduced to the Sadducees. They were the aristocratic, priestly group of religious leaders in Jesus’ day. The Sadducees were elitist, they adopted Hellenisitc principles, and wanted to maintain the Priestly order that was established in the Law of Moses. They rejected the oral traditions of Judaism, found in the Oral Torah, unlike the Pharisees. They insisted on literal interpretation of the law of Moses, the Written Torah. The main focus of their life were rituals that were part of Temple life.
Seeing their opportunity, the Sadducees decided the pose a religious question. A ‘spiritual’ question. The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection, but they are asking a question about the resurrection. It is worded in a way to imply the absurdity of the resurrection, one women with seven husbands. . .How can that work in the resurrection?
The entire argument of the Sadducees is predicated on a single premise: in the kingdom of God, life will be just like it is now. This woman with seven husbands is going to have a predicament choosing which husband to live with. . .
The reality is that life in the Kingdom of God is not like like now. Jesus explains that life in the Kingdom of God is eternal. There is no death. There is no marriage. This age is not like the age to come.
But to emphasize to the Sadducees the reality of the resurrections, Jesus turns to the written law of Moses. He reminds them that Moses points out in the Law that God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. At the burning bush, God identified Himself to Moses, and thus to Israel, as the “I am,” the eternal God. God also referred to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, thus speaking of these patriarchs not as dead men, but as those who are alive, immortal. If God spoke of dead men as though they were alive, then this implied that these men would live again, they would rise from the dead.
Again, Jesus answers the question with authority as to cause the people to no longer ask questions.
v.40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.
3. He is the Messiah
But we also know He is LORD. . . He is the Messiah. The promised One.
The inquisitors have stopped, Jesus now poses his own question. They have regularly questioned his authority and his right to do the things he has done. When these questions begin in verse 2, they were seeking to know where his authority comes from.
Now he turns to the religious leaders and poses a simple question.
41 But he said to them, “How can they say that the Christ is David’s son?42 For David himself says in the Book of Psalms, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 43 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 44 David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son?”
The religious leaders problem with Jesus was that he was claiming to be God. They believed him to be a man of flesh and bone, but to claim to be God was blasphemy. They could not accept Jesus’ claim of humanity and his deity.
By quoting Psalms 110, it made it clear that they not only had a problem with Jesus, who claimed to be both human and divine, but they were inconsistent with the Old Testament Scriptures, even those written by King David, which spoke of Messiah as a man and as God. The reference to Psalm 110 brings the central issue into focus, and shows that the God-Man is the central truth found in Scripture.
Jesus is the Messiah!
We bear His Image.
The resurrection is sure.
And Jesus is the Messiah!
So what does that mean? How should we live? If we bear his image and we are confident that we will live eternally with him, the Messiah, how should we live our everyday life?
We should Live like the Righteous, not the Religious
4. Live like the righteous, not the religious
45 And in the hearing of all the people he said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”
Now Jesus turns to his disciples and gives them a warning. Beware! Don’t live like these religious people. They seek to get recognition and affirmation by the things they wear and the things they do. When in actuality, they are not worship God or serving Him with their life.
The Gospel calls us to recognize that we bear the image of God and therefore, our lives belong to him. When we submit our lives to God, we give Him every aspect of our life . . . because it belongs to him! We are to render to God the things that are God. And when we have embraced the Gospel and live according to it’s calling, we rest assured that we will live eternally as Sons and Daughters of God in the resurrection. The Gospel proclaims that Jesus is the Messiah, the God-Man who has lived among us. And has called us to himself.
* I realize that Jesus is the Lord. Today I turn from my sin and trust Jesus as my Savior and Lord.
– I have been living like the religious and not the righteous. Pray that I live my life for King Jesus.
+ I will live my life in passionate worship to King Jesus.
1. What are some implied principles about our responsibility to government and taxes based on Jesus’ answer to the tax question?
2. What are some practical ways a person can give to “God the things that are God’s?”
3. Does the idea of the resurrection cause you fear and concern or joy and excitement? Explain.
4. What does the resurrection say to us about death? What about our time and mission on earth?
5. What is the difference between living religiously and living righteously?
6. Should the Gospel make a difference in how we live our everyday life? In what ways?
7. If Jesus’ claims of Luke 20 are true, what is your response to the conclusion in verse 45-47?